One person died and two were injured early on Tuesday, May 7 in an attack on a toll booth in Ouahigouya, the biggest city in Burkina Faso’s north, security sources said.
“A group of terrorists on motorcycles attacked a toll booth outside Ouahigouya on the road to [the capital] Ouagadougou around 3 a.m.,” one source said.
“One of the booth operators was killed and the other wounded. A police officer who was on guard duty at the toll booth was also wounded,” the source added.
If confirmed, it would be the first terrorist attack on the country’s third largest city and the north’s nerve center, around 160 km, although cities to the south have previously been targeted.
“The prosecutor has opened an investigation after carrying out the usual verifications,” a police officer said.
Le poste de peage Ouahigouya – Ouaga a été attaqué tôt ce matin vers 3h. Un agent péagiste a été tué. Deux autres personnes, dont un policier, ont été blessées. La riposte de la police a permis de faire fuire les assaillants, selon une source policière. #BurkinaFaso #lwili pic.twitter.com/Nf3IoXJEDj
— Lefaso_net (@Lefaso_net) May 7, 2019
One of the poorest countries in the world, Burkina Faso has been battling an escalating wave of attacks over the last three years, beginning in the North region near the border with Mali.
The former French colony lies in the heart of the sprawling, impoverished Sahel, on the southern rim of the Sahara desert.
Attacks have spread to the East region, near the border with Togo, Benin and Niger, and to a lesser extent, the west of the country.
Most attacks are attributed to the jihadist group Ansar ul Islam, which emerged near the Mali border in December 2016, and to the Support Group for Islam and Muslims (JNIM), which has sworn allegiance to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
According to a recent Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project analysis, violence by armed groups in Burkina Faso has spiked, with 499 fatalities reported from 124 direct civilian targeting events between November 1 and March 23, representing a 7,000% year-on-year rise.
In late April, gunmen killed four worshippers and a pastor in the first jihadist attack on a church, in small town of Silgadji, northeast of Ouahigouya.
With reporting from AFP